HOUSTON, TX (January 2011) - The next Dance Salad Festival performances are scheduled for April 21, 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm at the Wortham Center, Cullen Theater. Now celebrating the 16th anniversary season in Houston and the 19th season since its inception in Brussels, Belgium, Dance Salad Festival promises another gathering of world-class performers. Famous in their own countries, the dance companies have won praise from critics and audiences wherever they have toured. For the latest information on the upcoming season and downloadable photos of the dancers, visit www.dancesalad.org        

Price range of tickets is $20-$50. Buy tickets online at www.dancesalad.org. Click: Tickets and print them out yourself!

Dancers and Artists from the following companies have been confirmed for the 2011 Festival. More companies to come. Check updates on www.dancesalad.org

Ballet National de Marseille, considered one of France's most prestigious dance companies, will premiere in North America the multifaceted work Metamorphoses, set to a mix of musical works by various composers and groups, created by Belgian avant-garde and interdisciplinary artist, Frederic Flamand, now the Artistic Director of the Ballet National de Marseille and also the Cannes Dance Festival in France. DSF will present a curated version of this work. Flamand’s inventive choreographic vision is known for pioneering the collaboration and dynamic involvement of architecture and visual art elements that are created and used as an active part of the choreography. Metamorphoses opened the 52nd   Venice Biennale in 2007.

Metamorphoses  was inspired by Ovid's collection of mythological poems, “Metamorphoses,” which defies and explodes classical order. It is about being immersed in Ovid’s imagination, through different times and spaces. The approach of myths is an opportunity for us to reflect on the forces that make up human nature, the manifestations of desire, and the eternal battle between good and evil. Metamorphoses is filled with “…intimate duets to exhilarating large-scale set pieces, this remarkable company’s dancers-lithe, athletic and rigorously disciplined - seek out this creative hinterland between order and chaos, stability and change, irrationality and cold logic.” Brighton Dance Festival, 2008.

The production is set to the flamboyant urban design of Brazil's award-winning designers, the Campana Brothers, who were invited specifically to work with the dancers and the choreographer to create a kinetic hybrid of sculpturesque sets and costumes using recycled and handicraft materials. The Compana Brothers’ work has been exhibited in museums and institutional collections around the world. Some of their designs are now in the permanent collections at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York, US; Montreal Museum of Decorative Art, Canada; Vitra Design, Germany; Don Edelman Foundation, Switzerland; Jacqueline Vodoz and Bruno Danese Association, Milan.

Beijing Dance/LDTX from China is welcomed for its third visit to Dance Salad Festival. The renowned Chinese modern dance company will be performing the curated version of three choreographies: Standing Before Darkness by Sang Jijia; All River Red by Li Han-zhong, a signature piece for Bejing Dance/LDTX which we are happy to be bringing back again this year and finally, the meditative Pilgrimageby Cui Tao. "The company doesn't merely dance splendidly, it dances ferociously." LA Times

Standing Before Darkness is the second work created for Beijing Dance/LDTX by Sang Jijia who is the company’s resident choreographer. Jijia ruminates on the dancers’ bodies and combines their technique and every day walking movements to evoke extreme psychological tension and asymmetry. Sang Jijia said, "The name of this piece at the very beginning had nothing to do with dancing, but painting. I was painting back then. The figure on a pencil sketch has to be three dimensional to be vivid enough, and there will be shadows on his face. You have to manipulate your pencil with all shades of black to stress different parts of a face. I, then realized that people in the real world have got to be full of emotions to be vivid enough, from my point of view." www.showchina.org, July, 2010.

The choreography Pilgrimage opens with dancers walking shoulder to shoulder toward a seemingly similar destination. “We are heading forward, hand-in-hand, on our pilgrimage. We remain silent -both stifled by our fear and energized by our destiny.” As the dance progresses, each performer’s route is altered as they interact, falter or forge ahead, ultimately following their own path. Pilgrimage features music by the Beijing-based “father of Chinese rock” guitarist, songwriter and composer Cui Jian. www.beijingldtx.com

All River Red, created by husband and wife choreographers Li Han-zhong and Ma Bo, is Beijing Dance/LDTX’s signature piece. This powerful choreography interprets Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring as symbol of the vital struggle in China to develop contemporary dance against all odds. All River Red shows not so much a comfortable fusion of East-meets-West, but a direct and violent confrontation between those adhering to tradition and those aspiring to innovation. This piece was a hit in summer 2004 at the Opera Bastille in Paris as well as at Washington’s Kennedy Center’s 2005 Fall Festival of China as well as in the Dance Salad Festival in 2006 and we are thrilled to be bringing it back again this year.

The birth of BeijingDance / LDTX (Lei Dong Tian Xia, literally translated as Thunder Rumbles Under Heaven) in September of 2005 not only caught widespread international attention, but also captured the imagination of many artists in China. Beijing Dance / LDTX was born out of a controversial and exciting time of rapid cultural change in China, becoming China’s first professional dance company founded independently from the government. Launched  by veteran choreographers and a new generation of dancers in China, Beijing Dance / LDTX is a platform for contemporary creations. Under the artistic direction of Willy Tsao, now China’s foremost figure in modern dance and deputy artistic director Li Hanzhong, the company boasts an ensemble of exquisite dancers and a diverse repertoire.

Vladimir Malakhov’s special appearance is very welcomed in Dance Salad Festival 2011. One of the great dancers of his generation, a multiple award winner, once hailed as “Dancer of the Century” by European critics, he is now the Artistic Director of Staatsballett Berlin. Vladimir Malakhov will perform a powerful modern take on the La Morte del Cigno (The Dying Swan). This choreography, set to music by Camille Saint-Saëns, is created by Mauro de Candia, highly-praised Italian dancer, upcoming choreographer and founder of his own company, Arte&BallettO. DSF is honored to premiere this performance in the United States “…With concentration and without any hint of kitsch Malakhov shows here a last gasp, a fluttering reminder of youth and then the quiet, self-denying end,” New Flag online, 2010.

Malakhov began his ballet studies in his home town in Ukraine, continuing at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow. In 1986 he joined the Moscow Classical Ballet as the company’s youngest principal dancer. In 1992, Malakhov left Moscow to join the Vienna State Opera Ballet as a principal artist and in 1994 the National Ballet of Canada. In the spring of 1995, Malakhov had his debut with the American Ballet Theatre becoming a regular guest principal. With the founding of the Staatsballett Berlin in 2004, Vladimir Malakhov was appointed its Artistic Director.

Mauro de Candia studied at the Académie Grace de Monte Carlo and went on to join the Ballett der Staatsoper Hannover. In 1997 he founded the company Arte&Balletto, combining his work as a dancer with that of choreographer and organizer of international events.

Royal Ballet of Flanders, Antwerp, Belgium makes another welcome appearance at the Dance Salad Festival with Houston's premiere of the beautiful Sonate, set to the Violin sonata no. 5 by Johann Sebastian Bach created by legendary choreographer Maurice Béjart. Sonate will be performed by the Royal Ballet of Flanders' principal dancers, Aki Saito and Wim Vanlessen. The ballet was first performed by the Ballet du XXe Siècle in the Royal Theatre La Monnaie in Brussels, on December 10th 1970. "Throughout the 20th century, most of the great European opera houses presented classical ballet as a quintessentially 19th-century art form. But if one European artist should receive the principal credit for recognizing and then addressing its arrested development, it is the French choreographer Maurice Béjart, who died [at the of 80].His vision was of ballet as a 20th-century art form that would be as popular as cinema. It is a vision to which Béjart remained committed throughout his life, both during his 17-year residency at the Brussels opera house, the Théâtre de la Monnaie, until 1987, and then in Lausanne, after changes in management at the Monnaie resulted in the relocation of both Béjart and his company (renamed Béjart Ballet Lausanne) to Switzerland. His approach to the realization of his vision was always evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The traditions of classical ballet (both the Italian style he studied as a youth in Marseille, and the Russian style he studied later in Paris under his principal teacher, Mme Roussane) were to be augmented rather than thrown away… What made Béjart's formula so successful with his audiences (if not always with British critics) was his unique blend of showmanship with sincerity, and virtuosity with artistry." Guardian News & Media,2007.

The Royal Ballet of Flanders was founded in 1969 and is currently the only Belgian classical ballet company. With respect for the past and a passion for what the future brings, the Artistic Director, Kathryn Bennetts striking a balance between innovation and tradition, seeking to define the place of ballet in contemporary society.

BJM Dance Montreal's most-admired dancers, Celine Cassone and James Gregg, will perform a sensuous duo, Locked Up Laura, set to music by Bart Rijnink, created specifically for these two dancers by widely acclaimed and versatile choreographer, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. This beautiful choreography was inspired by the inner conflicts of a dancer minutes before a major performance. “…The work is at once a contradiction when Cassone’s lean floppy body shoots into stunning extensions en pointe. She is simultaneously soft and taut, and we are floored by her technique and edgy presence” writes Kris Eitla of San Diego Arts, 2009.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, half-Colombian, half-Belgian, has been hailed as a “rising star of the Dutch dance scene” (NRC newspaper).  Annabelle is a highly resourceful choreographer who focuses mainly on the dramaturgy of her pieces. She has choreographed works for the Scapino Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, the Gothenburg Ballet, the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Ballet National de Marseille among others.

An internationally renowned repertory company, BJM Dance Montreal has continued to grow since its birth in 1972. Since Louis Robitaille became Artistic Director in 1998, BJM works today with some of the most prestigious figures in the world of dance and contemporary ballet, such as Crystal Pite (Vancouver), Rodrigo Pederneiras (of the Brazilian company Grupo Corpo), Mauro Bigonzetti (of the Italian company Aterballetto), Aszure Barton (New York) and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa (Amsterdam).

Eastman (Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui) from Antwerp, Belgium, a newly created company by one of Europe's most in demand artist Moroccan-Flemish Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Larbi’s work is known for creating storybooks in motion, using an eclectic dance language multilayered with his unique understanding of reality through cultural references and diversity of dance and music styles. This year we will see Larbi's special take on the classical tale of Nijinsky’s L'après-midi d'un faune (or The Afternoon of a Faun), commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, London, set to Debussy’s original score interlaced with contemporary music created by composer Nitin Sawhney. Larbi’s Faunstarted from a desire to create a performance around the fact that the Faun is half-animal and half-man. Its movements are more wild, visceral and carefree. The interaction of Faun with Nymph on stage is innocent yet filled with sexual tension of the original choreography of Nijinsky which was considered extremely controversial in its time.

”…Cherkaoui’s physical vocabulary is contemporary in its supple, back-bending deployment of the upper body and the extraordinarily fluid transitions between vertical and horizontal, the ground and the air… Like Pina Bausch, he likes to take elements of the dancers’ everyday experiences and transform them into stylized vignettes...For Mr. Cherkaoui, ordinary life is the stuff of art, and art is where individuals can escape the constraints—physical, religious, cultural—of ordinary life,” writes Roslyn Sulcas, New York Times.

National Ballet of Canada's two much admired Principal Dancers  Czech born Zdenek Konvalina and American  Bridgett Zehr, the featured dance couple on the cover of last June’s issue of Dance Magazine, New York, will be bringing the romantic pas de deux, Impromtu, set to music by Schubert and choreographed by the English choreographer, Derek Deane, former Deputy Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer at Teatro dell'Opera in Rome as well as the former  Artistic Director of English National Ballet until 2001. “Audiences have a keen nose for magical partnerships and this one showed all the promise of such a pairing of exceptional talents. Kanvalina’s affecting attentiveness and the emotional intensity of Zehr’s doe-eyed response revealed a tender connection,” writes Michael Crabb of Dance Magazine.

An internationally admired and sought after artist of exemplary classical and neo-classical technique, Konvalina is described as “…a true danseur noble in a world where the very concept has almost been forgotten,” by Maina Gielgud, now the Principals’ coach for the English National Ballet and the  former Artistic Associate of the Houston Ballet where she coached Konvalina and Zehr. A native of Brno, Czech Republic, he joined The National Ballet of Canada in 2006 as a Principal Dancer. Konvalina has performed throughout Europe, America and Asia and has appeared in many gala performances.

Bridgett Zehr trained with the Sarasota Ballet’s Dance -The Next Generation Programme, The Harid Conservatory in Florida and Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. Zehr joined The National Ballet of Canada from Houston Ballet in 2006 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2009. With the National Ballet of Canada, Zehr has danced many principal roles.

National Ballet of Canada is the only Canadian ballet company to present a full range of traditional full-length classics. In addition to its classical repertoire, the company also embraces contemporary works and encourages the creation of new ballets and the development of Canadian choreographers.

The Estonian National Ballet will be premiering in the USA with the beautiful Pas de Deux, Dissolution, choreographed by Oksana Titova and Taavet Jansen, set to music Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten by Estonian born, widely acclaimed composer Arvo Pärt. The choreography will be performed by company soloists, Marika Muiste and Anatoliy Arhangelsky.

In 1922, the Estonian National Ballet hosted its premier evening ballet performance by the first permanent ballet troupe in the theatre. During WWII in 1944 the theatre and concert house was razed by the air raids. The theatre house was reopened in 1947. Today, the Estonian National Ballet is one of the cultural gems in the Baltic Region and highly respected across Europe.

The company is led by the Artistic Director, award-winning dancer and choreographer, Thomas Edur. He recently was a Principal dancer with the English National Ballet, along with his celebrated wife and former Principal dancer, Agnes Oaks who currently coaches the company. In 2010, the Queen Elizabeth II gave orders for Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur each to be appointed as Commanders of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. This is in recognition of their services to the arts in the UK and UK-Estonia cultural relations. Dance Salad Festival is excited to welcome this company for their first USA performance.

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company and the celebrated Ahn Trio from New York, USA will present a ground-breaking collaborative concert, curated version of Temptation of the Muses. This project was first premiered at the Harlem School Of The Arts in New York City. The Ahn Trio is welcomed to Houston again after their performance through the Society for the Performing Arts in November, 2010.

A centerpiece of the music is a work created for this production by Kenji Bunch, entitled "Concrete Stream." Another contemporary composer on the program is David Bala- Krishnain. The Ahn Trio plays live on stage with the dancers whose movements are propelled by the music. Dancers slide through the piano, mimic the cellist's movements and play a kind of hand ballet with sparkling water. This work meshes dance and music, each enhancing the other. The result is sheer beauty. Nai Ni Chen based the concept on a poem, "A Word for Freedom" by Latif Nazemi which begins with these words: "Let's kiss water/the root of civilization/a word for freedom ."

The Ahn Trio have been hailed as "exacting and exciting musicians" by the Los Angeles Times. The three sisters have earned a distinguished reputation for embracing music of living composers with their unique style and their innovative collaborations. They were born in Seoul, Korea, and educated at the Juilliard School in New York City. The members of the Ahn Trio, (cellist Maria, pianist Lucia, and violinist Angella), are constantly redefining the art and architecture of chamber music. Breathing new life into the standard piano-trio literature with commissioned works from visionary composers such as Michael Nyman, Maurice Jarre, Pat Metheny, Paul Schoenfield, Mark O' Connor, Kenji Bunch, Nikolai Kapustin, and Paul Chihara, the Ahn Trio brings a new energy and excitement to the chamber music world

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a blossom of color, energy and motion, "like endlessly proliferating forces of cosmic energy," says the New York Times. The dances of Nai-Ni Chen fuse the dynamic freedom of American modern dance with the grace and splendor of Asian art. The Company's productions take the audience beyond cultural boundaries to where tradition meets innovation and freedom arises from discipline.Recently, the Company was honored by a distinctive grant award from both the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities and the Department of State to represent the United States in a seven-city tour arranged by the Tamaulipas International Arts Festival in Mexico. Presented by some of the most prestigious concert halls in the United States , from the Joyce Theater in New York to the Ordway Center in Minnesota and the Cerritos Center in California , the Company has mounted twenty national tours and seven tours abroad. The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company also has the unique honor of having received more than twelve awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous Citations of Excellence and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. In the First China International Dance Festival in Kunming , Yunan, the China Dance Association presented to the Company its most prestigious honor for companies not based in China , the Golden Lotus Award.

Jasmin Vardimon Company from Brighton, England, was founded by a vigorous and original choreographic voice in today’s dance world, Israeli born choreographer Jasmin Vardimon. The company will debut in the USA in our Festival with a curated version of Vardimon’s powerfully provocative choreography Yesterday, which "...is a retrospective piece featuring some of the most breath-taking duets, striking solos and iconic moments selected from the company's repertoire... Interwoven with new choreographic material, this bold new work resounds with passion, precision and trademark physicality " www.jasminvardimon.com.

Renowned for her uniquely theatrical choreographic and directorial style combining physical theatre, quirky characterization, innovative technologies, text and dance, Vardimon accentuates her work with an acute observation of human behavior. “Vardimon is a powerful voice in physical theatre, and the daring movements she creates here leave scars on the memory,” The Guardian, London.

Vardimon was born and raised on a Kibbutz in central Israel. She joined the Kibbutz Dance Company, one of Israel’s largest dance companies, and in 1995, won a British Council ‘On the way to London’ Award. She moved to London in 1997 where she founded Jasmin Vardimon Company. Vardimon is a recipient of numerous awards and is an Associate Artist at Sadler's Wells, London, one of the prominent dance production houses in the world today.

Zoran Markovic (Serbia) & Maša Kolar (Croatia), award winning dancers and long term partners, will debut their own humoresque choreography, Bonet set to music by Venetian Snares and  a section from Stephan Thoss’s No Cha Cha Cha. After working as solo dancers with such important choreographers as John Neumeier, Mats Ek, Lightfoot/Leon, Crystal Pite, William Forsythe, Mauro Bigonzetti and Ohad Naharin, among others, in major dance companies in Europe (such as the Netherlands Dance Theater and Aterballetto), the couple is now concentrating on freelance performing, choreography and teaching.


Other Important Events in Dance Salad Festival Week

Choreographers’ Forum: A Conversation, Wednesday, April 20, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 6:30 pm, is a special opportunity to glimpse the creative process from some of the Festival’s invited choreographers; to hear their points of view and to see film clips of their work. This highly anticipated event is generously co-sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, lectures@mfah.org. There will be a reception following the Forum at the MFAH.

Classical, modern and contemporary dance share the Dance Salad Festival stage to form a mix of movement and compelling choreographic invention. Members of some of the world’s best dance companies come to the city to participate in this week long Festival. Each night’s production is uniquely curated and designed as a coherent, expressive performance. To see the full range of the choreography  it is highly recommended to attend at least two of the three evenings.

This multicultural presentation has received international recognition for its quality and innovativeness and because of the Festival’s broad international nature it has consistently been a source of cultural pride for many of the expatriate and ethnic  communities that reside in Houston. The city's 83 member Consular Corps is a community partner and many country members serve as sponsors and hosts. Director Nancy Henderek strongly believes that through the arts, bridges can be built between different countries and cultures.

During the Festival week, Artist to Artist Workshops will be held in various locations throughout the city so that students and professionals can learn from these invited master choreographers.

Dance Salad Festival has been praised by local, national and international publications. Dance Magazine said: “Producer Nancy Henderek’s eye for some of the best international dance is unparalleled…(Dance Salad Festival) could wind up as the premier contemporary dance festival between the East and West coasts.” In a special section of The Houston Chronicle entitled “Houston’s Ultimate People,” Nancy Henderek is described as a “one-woman United Nations.”

Detailed information about the festival is continuously updated and available on the web site at: www.dancesalad.org

PR/Assistant to the Director, Christina Levin, dsfassist@aol.com
Dance Salad Festival 713-621-1461 (office)